City Planning

The Chief Planner Roundtable is a public forum for Torontonians to discuss key city-building challenges, and to identify innovative "drivers for change". The Roundtables are founded on a platform of collaborative engagement, where industry professionals, community leaders, and city staff can discuss ideas about pressing issues in an open creative environment. A variety of options for roundtable participation are available including attendance in person, watching the live-stream via the internet, and contributing to the conversation via twitter, comment cards, or e-mail. The flexible and informal forum enables the City Planning Division to form new partnerships with community and city-building advocates, other city Divisions, the private sector, academics and beyond. The Chief Planner Roundtable reinforces City Council's Strategic Plan Principle of community participation, and the Official Plan Policy of promoting community awareness of planning issues.


Biodiverse TO
Friday, May 12, 2017, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St. W, Committee Room 1

CLICK HERE to watch the live stream

Agenda | Briefing Document

What is “Biodiversity”?  Biodiversity refers to the variety of life and the critical role it plays within varied ecosystems, including our growing urban environments.  The image of “the web of life” is often used to illustrate this interconnectedness and diversity.

In the past, concern for biodiversity has primarily been focused on “pristine” or non-urban areas, but this is changing as we are at a critical juncture in our planet’s history.  For the first time, more people live in urban regions than in rural, and the pressure these regions are placing on natural systems is vastly increasing. Cities take up approximately 3% of Earth’s surface, yet hold more than 50% of the Earth’s human population and consume almost 75% of our natural resources. Our own urban-region recently surpassed 6 million people and in this rapidly urbanizing world, questions are being asked as to how we can design our urban regions to be more sustainable and resilient for all species that inhabit them.

Part of the answer to this challenge is the successful integration of biodiversity initiatives into the planning and management of our urban areas. When biodiversity considerations are integrated into all aspects of city-building, including land use planning, urban design, transportation, parks and natural heritage management, energy production, waste management and public health, we will begin to design truly sustainable cities. By ensuring a network of functioning green spaces, we increase our cities’ resilience to unpredictable weather events, improve air quality, mental and physical health of residents, and much more by harnessing the ecosystem services that a healthy urban ecosystem can provide. The Biodiverse TO panel will bring together a variety of perspectives on the topic to talk about shared issues and to discuss potential long-term solutions.

Biodiverse TO Panel Members

ExpandDave Ireland

Dave Ireland
Managing Director, Biodiversity, Royal Ontario Museum

Dave grew up in Huntsville, Ontario, and spent many years exploring and leading backcountry canoe trips through Algonquin Park. He graduated from Mount Allison University, where he studied biology. After four years travelling the world, visiting some 25 countries, Dave completed his Master of Science degree in ecology at Trent.  Over the last 15 years, Dave has worked as a field biologist, a lecturer at various universities, and was the first Curator of Conservation at the Toronto Zoo. Dave’s been at the ROM for 6 years, and leads all projects, programmes, and partnerships that involve nature conservation, and is the ROM’s voice for biodiversity. Dave is the Chair of BioBlitz Canada, the Director of the Environmental Visual Communication Graduate Programme, and he is a member of the Ontario Biodiversity Council. Dave regularly provides advice to government and business leaders on best practices for nature conservation. Above all else, Dave is a storyteller.

ExpandScott MacIvor

Scott MacIvor
Assistant Professor, University of Toronto

Scott MacIvor is a newly appointed Assistant Professor of Urban Ecology in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough. He is interested in plants and pollinators in cities and more broadly, the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of green infrastructure, including public and private gardens, parks, and green roofs. Scott is also a researcher at the Green Roof Innovation Testing (GRIT) lab at the University of Toronto in the faculty of Landscape Architecture, and has taught urban ecology to science and non-science students at York, Ryerson, and in three departments at the University of Toronto.  Scott works with the City of Toronto Planning Division on a number of projects, which have included the 'Bees of Toronto' Biodiversity Series book, and the 'Guidelines for Biodiverse Green Roofs'.

ExpandKaren Mcdonald

Karen McDonald
Manager, Restoration & Infrastructure Division, Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA)

Karen McDonald is the Manager of Coordination and Ecosystem Management with the Restoration and Infrastructure division at Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA).   She first developed her fascination with wildlife and nature while growing up on a farm in eastern Ontario.  Now she works with municipal partners, agencies and NGOs, overseeing a dynamic team who restore streams, shorelines, wetlands, grasslands and forests in TRCA’s watershed.  Some of Karen’s favourite projects are located in Toronto, including the Leslie Street Spit/Tommy Thompson Park – a stunning example of reclaimed land that is now a hotspot for biodiversity in the city.  Karen is a contributing author to the City of Toronto’s award winning Biodiversity series and is on the Bird Studies Canada Board of Directors.  She takes every opportunity to get outside and be inspired by nature.  

ExpandMegan Meaney

Megan Meaney
Director, ICLEI Canada

Megan is the Director of the Canadian office of an international environmental non-profit organization called ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.  She works with local governments across Canada and internationally to advance their sustainability goalsShe has been with ICLEI since 1999, over which time she has held many roles in strategic energy planning, climate mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity, as well as sustainability management.   She aims create communities full of life, through local government biodiversity workshops, case studies, and the development of awareness raising and capacity building resources.  Megan has a Master’s degree in Environment and Management, a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science, and a diploma in Environmental Engineering.

ExpandFaisal Moola

Faisal Moola
Director General, David Suzuki Foundation

Faisal Moola is one of Canada’s most respected environmental scientists and advocates. His research in conservation science and environmental policy has been published in numerous academic journals and award-winning books, and he is a regular contributor to the opinion pages of Canada’s leading newspapers.  For the past decade, Faisal has led an expert team of scientists, policy experts and community organizers at the David Suzuki Foundation, in support of the protection of Canada’s cherished wild spaces and endangered species, as well as the greening of our towns and cities.  After living for several years on the west coast, Faisal has come back to the Greater Toronto Area, where he was born and raised. He is Director General for the Ontario and Canada’s North Department at the David Suzuki Foundation and has adjunct faculty appointments at the University of Toronto and York University.

ExpandAmy Mui

Amy Mui
Lecturer, Teaching Stream, University of Toronto

A conservation biologist trained in remote sensing and geographic information science, Amy has been involved in species recovery activities for Canada’s Black-Footed Ferret, Ontario Peregrine Falcons, and Vancouver Island Marmots to name a few. Further afield, she has also been involved in conservation work with sea turtles, penguins, tropical birds, and new world monkeys while interacting closely with local communities who are intimately linked to the success of species conservation intiatives. 

An avid educator, Amy uses active learning techniques and innovative methods of student engagement to train the next generation of scientists at the University of Toronto in Mississauga, teaching courses in biogeography, remote sensing, and geospatial analysis related to natural resources management and species at risk conservation. Current research uses ecological models to examine the utility of corridors to facilitate animal movement in urban regions with collaborators such as the Toronto Zoo, Parks Canada, and the Toronto Region Conservation Authority. Amy earned her PhD from the University of Toronto using a satellite remote sensing approach to model changing freshwater turtle habitat in fragmented landscapes, and a MSc from the University of Sydney in Australia examaming dispersal patterns of juvenile common wombats related to anthropogenic disturbances.

ExpandRichard Ubbens

Richard Ubbens, Director, City of Toronto, Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division

Richard Ubbens is the Director of Parks for the City of Toronto, Parks, Forestry & Recreation Division. He is a Registered Professional Forester with 30 years of experience in the parks and urban forestry sector.  He is the former Director of Urban Forestry and City Forester. Richard is responsible for all aspects of managing Toronto’s significant 8,200+ hectare parks system. His branch of dedicated professionals provides all aspects of turf, horticulture, general park maintenance and technical service operations for the City of Toronto. 

Previous Roundtables